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Podcast: VPNs, Cybersecurity, and Data Privacy During COVID-19

Greg Mooney| May 21 2020

| Podcasts, security, VPN

Ted Kim, CEO of Private Internet Access, joins the podcast to chat about VPNs, privacy online, and how the cybersecurity threat landscape has changed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Data privacy and protection are always top of mind for the technically initiated, but what about your end-users? Ransomware and phishing scams are on the rise during the COVID-19 crisis, and this has been a boon for hackers. Mostly, the threat landscape has shifted due to employees working remotely. VPNs and other security tools like multifactor authentication and cloud resources have been a great way to retroactively secure business networks and services.

Ted Kim is the CEO of Private Internet Access, a popular VPN provider. He joined the Defrag This podcast to discuss how the perception of data privacy and security have changed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Is Data Security Taking a Back Seat During the Pandemic?

One concern for many IT teams is the ability to operate a business and secure all endpoints that are expanded in a remote workforce. But what about the perspective of the end-users? Employees are generally more concerned about their health in the pandemic, and sometimes data security may take a back seat.

For instance, the World Health Organization’s website has been a big target for hackers during the crisis. Hackers have been spoofing the WHO’s website to get sensitive personal information on unsuspecting victims. Once this happens, this data can be used to exfiltrate other data like passwords and answers to security questions to gain illegal access to business networks and services.

 

When asked if data security has taken a back seat, Ted says, “It’s complicated, right? Because of the way that most people think about their lives, they have to take care of themselves and their families and health concerns first. And that’s a very real threat that people have to deal with.”

This is a fair assessment since health is the top priority to most, especially now. But that doesn’t mean people should be complacent in their data lives, regardless of their health. It’s a tough predicament for many, especially those who aren’t as technically aware or don’t understand the security risks that arise during a crisis of this magnitude. In many ways, IT and security teams need to provide the tools and services to make it easier for end-users to secure and protect their data at work and in their personal lives.

This all comes down to communication.

The Communication Issue

Since Ted is the CEO of a leading VPN company, it was great to get his insight on the cultural aspect of data security and data privacy right now. Most of us who are familiar with implementing data security protocols and processes know that security is a top-down approach culturally at any business, starting with the C Suite.

Ted explains what has worked for PIA. As we know, many of us IT and security folks are introverted (not all, but most), and that doesn’t really matter though, as Ted explains.

“I think that regardless of the person that you are, you want to be productive in your work. You want to show that you’re being effective and what you’re doing matters. And sometimes it’s easy to silo yourself away. But now more than ever, every little thing matters. We can assume nothing about the environment that we are in.”

Making Sure Everyone is Protecting Their Digital Assets

Especially when it comes to using a VPN for security and privacy measures, employees will tend to take the road of least resistance. Having cybersecurity and privacy tools in place, like a VPN or multifactor authentication (MFA), is going to go a long way and helping employees protect themselves. However, VPNs can be slow, and MFA can be cumbersome to set up on personal devices.

Private Internet Access has made it, so their VPN creates the least amount of degradation in internet speed for the end-user as possible. Ted explains that his team was ready for a spike, such as using video conferencing in conjunction with a VPN, so there was not much in downtime and slowdowns when the crisis began.

Conclusion

The point being, having the right array of tools for your employees is going to be the best way to keep businesses secure, whether it be protecting employees in their personal lives or at work. It all relates. And don’t forget to keep all lines of communication open and infuse that into the company culture. As Ted said, “Every little thing matters.”

Topics: Podcasts, security, VPN

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THIS POST WAS WRITTEN BY Greg Mooney

Greg is a technologist and data geek with over 10 years in tech. He has worked in a variety of industries as an IT manager and software tester. Greg is an avid writer on everything IT related, from cyber security to troubleshooting.

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